Environmental allergies affect millions of Americans who fight their way through the spring and summer months sneezing, rubbing their eyes and, of course, taking allergy meds. In addition to medication, people turn to natural methods to minimize reactions to allergens after they enter the body and to limit the number of allergens in the home and office. These techniques reduce the number of allergens in the air to improve air quality so people can breathe more easily indoors.
1. Change air filters regularly
Filtering out allergens in the home is one of the keys to making sure the air that remains is clean and pure. Installing HEPA filters on an air conditioning system and changing them regularly is the best way to get rid of allergens. Spaces without central air conditioning can benefit from a stand-alone air filtration machine. Again, keeping the filter fresh ensures it reaches peak performance and cleans the air.
2. Keep pet dander out
People who are allergic to pet dander or fur but who can’t bear to part with their furry friends can at least take a few precautions to limit exposure to pet dander. First, vacuum regularly with a machine that has a HEPA filter to keep the dander from heading straight back into the room. Second, keep pets off the furniture and out of bedrooms to limit contact with dander. Lastly, groom pets outside regularly to keep the dander out of the home.
3. Stop dust mites
Dust mites can cause severe allergies and often hide out in all the toughest spots to get to. One of the best ways to reduce exposure to dust mites is to keep bedding covered in allergen-proof casings and to wash sheets in hot water at least once per week to clean off allergens that have settled into the bedding. In addition, keeping the home’s temperature at 70 degrees or lower and humidity levels below 50 percent also fights off dust mites.
4. Prevent mold growth
Mold can cause severe allergic reactions. Unfortunately, it grows easily in buildings, especially in areas with humid outdoor air. Keeping indoor humidity levels below 50 percent is the best way to prevent mold growth. Some ways to do this include running a dehumidifier, keeping windows closed on humid days, venting bathrooms and laundry rooms outdoors and installing a sump pump in the basement to get rid of any standing water that makes its way into the home.
5. Keep windows closed
Although nobody wants to live in a closed-up space all year, there are times when it’s very helpful to keep the windows closed. Weather reports list pollen levels each day. Keeping windows closed during peak pollen season can prevent these allergens from making their way into the home or office. Pollen levels are highest in the morning, so even keeping the windows closed during the first few hours of the day can help. When windows are open, ensure they have screens and the house has an air filter running to help maintain air quality levels.
6. Avoid tobacco smoke
Many people are allergic to tobacco smoke. Once it makes its way into a home or office, it can be time-consuming to air out the space. Smokers should smoke outside and remain at least 10 yards away from the building. Make sure all windows and doors are closed while people are smoking outdoors. Workplaces should establish designated smoking areas with ashtrays, shade and seating to encourage people who smoke to use those spaces rather than staying close to the building.
Even households and offices without people who have severe allergies can benefit from taking steps to decrease the number of allergens in the space. Mild allergies may not cause symptoms, but they do make people more susceptible to getting other sicknesses. In addition, it’s always a good idea to make sure a space is comfortable for visitors who do have allergies. Changing just a few habits can make a significant difference in improving indoor air quality.